Haha! I paused. Laughing before writing this piece. I didn’t think I needed to but in light of recent events, I decided to go for it. A few days ago a Facebook user shared a video which spoke to how Asian men are represented in Hollywood. The video showed clippings from an interview where women shared their views on whether Asian men were sexy. In that same video, a well known Asian actor also shared his thoughts on how his people were being represented. To get a clear picture of what I’m referring to, see the video below.
Video courtesy of ATTN: Life
Now, this wasn’t the first time that I saw a video with similar content. I even sided with a previous video because I agreed with the message. Hollywood has/had a knack for pigeonholing every other race, ethnicity and culture, while always making the Caucasian, the hero/heroine who defies all odds and saves the day. I was upset and disappointed for my Asian brethren/sistren. However, the difference with this video and the others, is that this video was speaking about superficial issues (from my vantage point). Then trying to throw in the fact that Asians don’t get represented well or enough. They too can be heroes and heroines. I DO NOT disagree with the latter because when the casting choice was made for Ghost In The Shell, I was livid because there are many talented Asian actresses who could have been considered for the lead role of Major Mira Killian inspired by Motoko Kusunagi from the Japanese manga series of the same name, yet they went with Scarlett Johansson.
But, this video was focused specifically on Asian men’s sexiness or lack thereof which is when I decided to give a very blunt opinion. Mind you, it wasn’t asked of me but seeing as though it appeared on my newsfeed, I gave my bits.
Being a Black man, whose representation in Hollywood, for years have been but not limited to brutes, poor, the comic relief (shared with Asians) drug lords (Black people aren’t the only one), uneducated, the bonifide best friend to the Caucasian lead and most likely to be shot and or jailed, the message of this particular video did not sit well with me. Like I said, I pointed out, not in the best way, that not being portrayed as sexy is not the worst thing in the world because no Asian person is getting shot at because they aren’t sexy. The same Facebook user rebutted by stating that the experience belonged to him and painted a picture of how he was treated by being an unsexy Asian growing up. I empathised with said user because it was and never is my intention to discount anyone’s experiences, however, given the context of this video and what it set out to do, I had to make comparisons of how Asians and Blacks are and have been represented in Hollywood.
One gets it worse. There are no qualms about that. Though, everyone has the right to their experiences, we shouldn’t be so blinded to the privileges we have. Yes, being seen as a nerdy Asian male means/meant you could be or have been picked on, told you should go back to China (such an ignorant statement, infuriates me) or called chink eye is not how any kid expected to grow up BUT the Black kid is often times not given the chance to grow up. He’s a target the day he is born. He will, more than likely, be sent out of class or suspended for talking back to a teacher (not the only one who does it, doesn’t mean he should), be stopped by the police for looking suspicious, will have all eyes on him and his friends if they are out in a group because Black men can’t be seen together and they’re not in a gang, most likely to be shot (I don’t even have to expound on this) and most likely will get the full sentencing for same minor and or major criminal offences committed by the “superior” race. Let’s not even get started on how our Brown brothers and sisters have to been represented (though they are Asians themselves). So when the Facebook user said he’d rather be feared than to fear, I wonder how much of being treated like a Black or Brown person he’d be willing to experience, just so he could shake the stereotype of the unsexy Asian. (Click here) Kinda seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t it?
I’ll end with this, our experiences are our own and no one can take that away from us but we shouldn’t be so marred by them, that we are unwilling to see that others do have it worse and because refuse to just acknowledge the fact, we tune out anything that isn’t in line with our way of thinking.